Chilliwack River and Copper Ridge trail system provide trail access to the
remote northwestern park area. It is noted for its scenic subalpine
meadows on Copper Ridge, and for the 18.5 mile (30 km) route that follows
the Chilliwack River from its source near Hannegan Pass to Chilliwack Lake
The trailhead is located at the east end of Hannegan Road (USFS
#32), reached via Mt. Baker Highway (SR 542). Eight and a half miles (13.7
km) past the town of Glacier, turn left onto USFS Road #32, and follow
this road 5.5 miles (8.9 km) to the end. The required backcountry
permit for overnight stays in the park can be obtained at the joint
National Park Service-US Forest Service Public Service Center in Glacier.
The required Forest Service Northwest Forest Pass may be purchased
at any ranger station.
From Hannegan Trailhead (elevation 3100', or 940 m) the trail
climbs through silver fir stands and avalanche clearings to Hannegan Pass
at 4500' (1370 m). Views of Ruth Mountain dominate this area. From the
pass, the trail descends to the headwaters of the Chilliwack River and
Boundary Camp, located just inside the national park boundary. Boundary
Camp is in a subalpine area and fires are not permitted. Here the trail
splits, with one fork heading up to Copper Ridge and the other continuing
down the Chilliwack Valley.
Revegetation on Copper Ridge
The trail to Copper Ridge passes through 7 miles (11 km) of
subalpine meadows with unobstructed views of the North Cascades mountains.
Gaining the ridge from Boundary Camp requires a climb of 900' in 2 miles
(300 m in 3 km). Camping on the ridge is restricted to 3 small designated
campsites: Silesia Camp and Egg Lake, west of the lookout, and Copper Lake
to the east of the lookout. Composting toilets are available at all three
sites. The ridge trail eventually drops to the valley floor again, joining
the Chilliwack River Trail near Indian Creek Camp. This is a rigorous
2400', 5 mile descent (730 m in 8 km).
Campfires are not allowed anywhere on the ridge because of the
extremely delicate nature of the plants and soils. You may notice a coarse
netting material covering several areas around Egg and Copper Lakes. This
material has been placed in areas severely damaged by overuse in the past,
and is helping natural plant cover to return to these areas. It is very
important that you do not walk on or otherwise disturb the covered areas.
Brush Creek to Ross Lake
Below Boundary Camp the Chilliwack River Trail drops steadily
2.5 miles (4 km) to the Copper Creek hiker and stock camps. U.S. Cabin
hiker and stock camps are located another 2 miles (3 km) past Copper
Creek. A mile (1.6 km) past these camps is the Chilliwack River crossing.
During late July and August the river is often less than knee deep, and
can be forded. A cable car crossing is available for the use of hikers if
the water is too high. Further down the Chilliwack River Trail are
Indian Creek, Bear Creek, and Little Chilliwack camps, the latter being a
mere mile (1.6 km) from the US-Canadian border.
The trail up Brush Creek to Whatcom Pass is located 7 miles (11
km) from Boundary Camp, and is just east of the Chilliwack River crossing.
Graybeal Camp is located 2 miles (3 km) up the valley, and Whatcom Camp is
just before the pass, 5 miles (8 km) from the trail junction. From here
hikers can continue over the pass to Ross Lake via the Little Beaver or
Big Beaver drainages. There are a number of campsites along both routes. A
composting toilet is available during summer at Whatcom Camp.
Pets and firearms are prohibited in the National Park. Fires
are allowed only at lower elevation camps where a fire grate is provided.
Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits
and information are available at the Wilderness Information Center in
Marblemount (360-873-4500 ext. 39) or at the Glacier Public Service Center
(360-599-2714). Rangers have maps and current information to assist you in
planning a safe and rewarding trip.